A public health campaign will encourage older people and others at risk to visit their local pharmacy throughout October to find out how to stay well over the winter months, and get advice on a range of other winter issues.
The Winter Wellness pharmacy campaign will start on Tuesday 1 October and continue until Thursday 31 October 2013. It is being run by all Welsh health boards, and is being coordinated by Public Health Wales, Community Pharmacy Wales and Age Cymru, with support from the Wales Centre for Professional Pharmacy Education, and Welsh libraries.
During October older people and others at extra risk from the cold weather will be encouraged to call into their pharmacy to complete a ‘Winter Wellness Check’. This will allow pharmacies to give people health advice, deliver a range of NHS pharmacy services and direct them to other helpful information and services.
The purpose of the campaign is to raise awareness of the impact that the winter months can have on the health of people at extra risk, like older people and those with existing medical conditions, and the important role of the community pharmacy network across Wales in addressing these health issues in accessible locations without the need for an appointment. The campaign will enable pharmacies to help people get ready for winter and lower any risk to their health that might come.
Chair of Public Health Wales, Professor Sir Mansel Aylward CB, said: “Most excess winter deaths in Wales happen to people aged 65 and over, so getting the message out about winter wellness to these individuals and others at risk is so important.
“Cold homes have a significant impact on people’s health and one of the best ways of keeping well during winter is to stay warm. Keeping warm over the winter months can help prevent coughs and colds as well as more serious health conditions such as influenza, pneumonia, heart attacks, strokes, and depression.
“This is why we are working together to encourage people to get down to their local community pharmacy in October to discover the simple steps to get ready for the cold weather, and keep well this winter.”
Mr Chris James, Chair of Community Pharmacy Wales, said: "This is one of the most important of the national community pharmacy public health campaigns so far. October is the crucial month of the health year, when much of our work is dominated by preparation for anticipated winter illness pressures.
“Community pharmacy is increasingly at the forefront of efforts to provide convenient professional patient care and to relieve the congestion in secondary care and in GPs surgeries. This campaign is bringing together the key NHS Wales pharmacy services to address the Winter Wellness challenge."
Rhian Pearce, Age Cymru's Keep Well this Winter Coordinator says: "Keep Well this Winter encourages older people in Wales to keep warm, keep well and keep safe during the winter months. During the campaign we advise older people about things they can do to keep healthy in winter, such as getting a flu jab and keeping their homes warm.
"We are delighted to be working with Public Health Wales and Community Pharmacy Wales on the Winter Wellness campaign to promote our winter health messages through community pharmacies across Wales."
The five health issues and actions targeted in the Winter Wellness check will be:
Getting a free of charge NHS flu vaccination is the most important step in protecting your health if you are an older, or at risk person, in winter
Smoking damages health at any time of year but can cause greater problems in the winter – smoking cessation help is available in pharmacies
People with high blood pressure are under extra risk of stroke in winter and can be helped by pharmacies to manage their medication to reduce this risk
More people are living longer now with chronic conditions, but can be at greater risk in winter – pharmacies are ideally placed to support working people with chronic conditions to manage their condition and their medication
Hospital stays are increased in winter and readmissions due to medication error can be reduced by taking the Home from Hospital medicines review service in pharmacies.
With active support from Age Cymru the Winter Wellness check will also include non health action points on energy efficiency, money advice and how to keep active. Innovative A5 sized thermometers, specially developed by Age Cymru, for use in homes will be distributed to help older people tell if their home is safe and warm.
Other top tips for staying safe and warm this winter that will be used during the campaign are:
Get your home ready for winter. Get your heating and cooking appliances checked, and make sure chimneys and flues are swept. If you use fuel like wood, coal or oil, make sure you have plenty, and get a smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector fitted
If you are struggling to heat your home, get financial support from your local council in the form of cold weather or winter fuel payments. The Home Heat Helpline (0800 33 66 99) is a free service from energy companies to let older people and those at risk check they are on the most cost effective tariff
Keep warm by setting central heating to the right temperature (18-21°C 65-70°F). Free thermometers can be provided by your pharmacist
Look after yourself, and check on older neighbours and relatives. Layering clothes helps to stay warm, and wearing shoes with a good grip can help avoid slips and falls
Eat well, because food is a vital source of energy which helps to keep the body warm. Have hot meals and drink regularly.
Adult Social Care services are available from your local authority for older people
NEST (0808 808 22 44) is a free Welsh Government scheme to help and advise you on making your home more energy efficient
Public Health Wales is an NHS organisation providing professionally independent public health advice and services to protect and improve the health and wellbeing of the population of Wales.
Public Health Wales has four statutory functions:
To provide and manage a range of public health, health protection, healthcare improvement, health advisory, child protection and microbiological laboratory services and services relating to the surveillance, prevention and control of communicable diseases;
To develop and maintain arrangements for making information about matters related to the protection and improvement of health in Wales available to the public; to undertake and commission research into such matters and to contribute to the provision and development of training in such matters;
To undertake the systematic collection, analysis and dissemination of information about the health of the people of Wales in particular including cancer incidence, mortality and survival; and prevalence of congenital anomalies; and
To provide, manage, monitor, evaluate and conduct research into screening of health conditions and screening of health related matters
More information on Public Health Wales is available at www.publichealthwales.org
Community Pharmacy Wales (CPW) is recognised in the National Health Services (Wales) Act 2006 as the organisation responsible for representing all of the 714 community pharmacies in Wales on all matters relating to NHS community pharmacy services. CPW works with Government and its agencies, including health boards and Public Health Wales, to help protect and develop high quality community pharmacy services and to shape the NHS community pharmacy contract and its associated Regulations.
NHS Wales services run in community pharmacies include: medicines dispensing, Medicines Use Reviews, Smoking Cessation support, Emergency Contraception and Discharge Medicines Reviews. Since 2012 some community pharmacies are delivering NHS flu jabs to eligible at risk patients, and from 2013 pathfinder pharmacies will operate a Common Ailments service
As part of the core NHS Wales community pharmacy contract framework, three national public health campaigns are run in community pharmacies every year. In 2013 these three campaigns are: ‘Reduce Your Stroke Risk’ in May 2013; ‘Look After Your Eyes’ in July 2013 and ‘Winter Wellness’ in October 2013
Age Cymru is the national charity for older people in Wales
We are the force combining Age Concern Cymru and Help the Aged in Wales
Age affects us all in different ways. We cannot promise good health, but we should be able to ensure good care for all of us. When we find loneliness, we will reach out. When age becomes a burden, we will lighten the load
Age Cymru will campaign. We will fundraise. We will research. We will make the powers that be listen
Age Cymru is a registered charity 1128436
Company limited by guarantee and registered by in England and Wales 6837284
Registered office address: Tŷ John Pathy, 13/14 Neptune Court, Vanguard Way, Cardiff, CF24 5PJ
Age Cymru works nationally and locally across Wales to improve life for all older people
The Welsh Government funds Age Cymru’s Healthy Ageing Team which includes the work of the Health Initiatives Officer, offering year-round advice for older people on keeping well
Source: Cwm Taf Health Board